O’Mara resolution urging the use of sensitive language related to suicide unanimously clears Human Services Committee

HARRISBURG, Sept. 19 – State Rep. Jennifer O’Mara’s House resolution (H.R. 399) unanimously cleared the House Human Services Committee on Wednesday and will now move to the full House for consideration.

O’Mara’s resolution would urge the use of sensitive language by all branches of Pennsylvania government when discussing instances of suicide. Her resolution seeks to adopt the phrase “death by suicide” instead of “committed suicide,” which O’Mara said implies criminality.

“My hope is that my resolution serves as a steppingstone toward eliminating the stigma surrounding suicide, because using the word ‘committed’ shows a lack of compassion toward the topic,” O’Mara said. “The way we address sensitive matters like this all boils down to simply how we communicate them.”

O’Mara added that approximately 1,970 Pennsylvanians die by suicide each year, and Pennsylvania’s suicide rate increased by 34% between 1999 and 2016.

“We need to show our residents who are grieving the loss of a loved one to suicide that we understand their needs and we’re working toward eliminating the stigma here in Pennsylvania,” O’Mara said.

More information on HR 399 can be found here.